Mrs. Priscilla Ryan, age 88, formerly of Eagles Mere, PA, passed away on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at the Adams Center for Rehabilitation in Lewisburg, PA, a little over a month after her husband, Bob Ryan, died. She had been ill for some time.
Priscilla was born April 13, 1931, in Passaic, NJ, a daughter of the late Austin and Bertha Elliott Travers. She graduated from Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ, then Wellesley College in 1953 with a degree in music. Violin was her instrument and in the mid-seventies she was “first chair” for the Philadelphia Orchestra. She was, as she said, a “women’s libber”. She met and married Bob Ryan in July of 1955 and they celebrated their 69th anniversary last year. She became a working mother and the Ryans found Eagles Mere the ideal place for their three mischievous young boys- John, David, and Arthur.
One son remembers that his mother was always fair, but a strong disciplinarian. “She would tap me on the head with a wooden spoon from the kitchen if I got out of line”, he said.
Summering in the mountains, Priscilla heard stories of the pre-war years when many of the local Eagles Mere inns provided live, mostly classical, music. When Priscilla met Debbie Reeder, born and raised near Eagles Mere, a cellist who played with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the two women were determined to bring good music to the area, but they wondered how….
With the help of her husband, Bob, and later Joe Wilkinson, they put on some small concerts in local houses, on lawns, and at a church. However, few people came, but one of them suggested doing some non-classical music, such as jazz or swing, about which Priscilla knew little.
Talking with another friend, Betty Hays, who later became mayor of Eagles Mere, Priscilla mentioned her dilemma. Betty said a musician lived down the street from her and she heard him practice every afternoon as she walked the family dog, and it sounded like jazz to her. His name was Derf Nolde and when Priscilla called him he said he played both jazz and swing and also had a band outside of Philadelphia. Thus a legend of over 20 years was born.
Shortly after the first summer of these concerts, it was suggested to Priscilla that a fund-raising group be formed. It came into being and was named the “Eagles Mere Friends of the Arts”.
One of the local people who joined was Dave DeWire and he pointed out that a concert hall would soon be needed. With the financial help of her husband Bob, Joe Wilkinson, and many other donors, plus the help of the Fire Company and the Athletic Association, the DeWire Center was built. It provides a great variety of music for the community now.
As the “Friends” flourished, Priscilla oversaw everything. Finally, though, she felt it was time to loosen the reins.About ten years ago, a year after Nancy Voneida became chair person, Priscilla stepped back. Nancy remembers that the first year Priscilla never interfered, but always watched closely. Once Priscilla was convinced that everything she had believed in was in safe, caring hands, it was time for her to go and she retired.
But her dream, her passion, had been realized and Eagles Mere has, once again, a huge variety of wonderful summer music to enjoy.
When Joan Celestino, the current chairperson of the Friends, heard the news of Priscilla’s death, she said, “Without Priscilla Ryan there would be no Friends of The Arts, and indeed, no DeWire Center”.
In addition to the Friends of the Arts, Priscilla was very active in the Dushore Music Club and all aspects of the Eagles Mere community.
John Elliot Ryan Rosemont, PA
David Stone Ryan Media, PA
Arthur Marsh Ryan Austin, TX
A Celebration of Life Service for Robert S. & Priscilla T. Ryan will be held on Sunday, June 30, 2019 at 2:00 P.M. at the Eagles Mere Community Church, 909 Laporte Avenue, Eagles Mere, PA with the Rev. John H. Clark, officiating. Interment will be in the Eagles Mere Cemetery.
The Family of Bob & Priscilla Ryan, request that Memorial Contributions in their memory can be sent to the Eagles Mere Friends of the Arts, PO Box 166, Eagles Mere, PA 17731
There will be a reception following the graveside service at the Eagles Mere Country Club, 1 Country Club Road, Eagles Mere, PA.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the P. Dean Homer Funeral Home, 206 Water St., Dushore, PA.
To send condolences or sign the e-guestbook, please go to www.homerfuneralhome.com.
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